Montagu becomes a magnet for families

Previously known for its hot springs and sweet wines, the charming Breede River Valley village of Montagu has steadily been gaining an additional reputation in recent years as an outstanding adventure and eco-tourism destination, and is now also attracting an increasing number of families as permanent residents.

“Once they discover that Montagu has excellent schools and see how safe and peaceful the village is, many people who have come here on family holidays can’t wait to make it their home,” says Nelda Wiese, owner of the local Chas Everitt International office.

“Consequently, although Montagu is still a very popular retirement destination, about a third of those buying homes here now are under 35 – mostly parents with young children – and we also have many buyers in their forties and fifties relocating here to start second careers or simply to enjoy a healthier, less stressful lifestyle than in the cities and bigger towns.”

Research also shows, she says, that the pace of sales has really increased recently, with 20 properties in the village being sold in the first four months of this year compared with 44 in the whole of 2011. Most of these sales have been in the R700 000 to R1,2m price range.

Montagu is situated at the foot of the Langeberg, about 180km from Cape Town on the Route 62 scenic route, and it does, of course, have a hot mineral springs resort and several renowned wineries nearby. It is also surrounded by some spectacular rock formations that have made it one of the most popular climbing and hiking destinations in the word and attract hundreds of international visitors every year.

Known for its well-preserved Victorian architecture, it is now also gaining a reputation as a floral conservation area and for a wide variety of locally produced arts and crafts as well as an astonishing array of excellent restaurants.

“For those interested in relocating permanently, though, what is usually of even greater interest is the fact that it has its own pre-primary, primary and high schools. The private Kings Christian School is also located here and there are several other primary schools in the surrounding villages. The major national retailers are also well-represented in Montagu and it also has it own golf course as well as a well-equipped private clinic,” says Wiese.

However, although it is growing, the council and residents are very sensitive about new development. There are still smallholdings right in the village with a minimum sub-division limit of 8500sqm. There are also large stands of between 1200sqm and 2500sqm left undivided. And the few security “estates” that exist around Montagu generally consist of only four to six freehold homes.

Local land prices, she says, start at around R330 000 for stands in a centrally-located security complex and around 550 000 for stands bordering the nature reserve. There are currently also 4400sqm vineyard plots available for around R700 000 and unimproved smallholdings for about R1,5m..

Home prices, meanwhile, start at around R550 000 to R700 000 for two-bedroom, two-bathroom flats in older buildings that need a greater or lesser degree of updating, and at R795 000 for some new plot-and-plan Victorian-style units.

Larger family homes with three bedrooms start at around R1m and range up to about R2,5m for mountainside mansions with four or five bedrooms and expansive views.

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